I can usually predict a student’s grades by his/her adherence to a study routine. Those who have strict routines, whether it is a distinct time, or time period, such as after practice, are quite often A students. Those who usually – but not always – follow a routine are B students. Those who study “whenever” are C students.
One of my all time favorite students attended Guilford High School in Connecticut. He was a favorite because he was really funny and fun oriented. Such types are rarely good with routine and that was the case here. He had no routine. Consequently, he would often wind up starting his studies after 8 pm. Understandably, he would get tired and/or distracted and then would go to bed without adequate studying. His grades reflected his routine. We corrected his routine and his grades shot up.
2. Teacher Connection
Those that make an effort to get noticed by teachers by coming in early for review or developing some interpersonal connection with the teacher are more likely to succeed in the teacher’s class. At the very least, such students do better when graded for the ever nebulous “class participation”. Moreover, teachers are human and humans like helping out those that they know. We are tribal by nature. That close call B plus/A minus has a way of becoming an A minus for students who make a personal connection with their teachers.
One of our tutors reported that another student from Guilford High School had grades that were in direct relation to his connection to the teacher. By pointing this out to the student, he realized that he needed to be more consistent in getting to know his teachers.
3. 100% Homework Completion
This should be an easy one for high school students. Yet, a fair amount of students will miss occasional assignments. Two huge problems result:
(1) if the teacher gives a number or a letter grade to homework assignments, then 0s and Fs are grade killers
(2) in a climate of grade inflation, teachers are looking to find students that they can grade a bit harshly (which these days is a B-!). Missed assignments make a bad overall grade easy to justify but also indicate to the teacher that this is a kid who doesn’t care that much and thus won’t complain when getting a bad grade.
I recall a third student from Guilford who thought that doing most of his homework was good enough, particularly because he was extraordinarily intelligent and did not – from his perspective – need to do homework to understand the material. When we discussed how his grades related to his ambitious college hopes and how his homework related to his grades, he adapted the 100% homework completion rule and went on to Ivy League success.
4. Distraction Discipline During Study Time
The battle to remove all distracting devices has been lost for many parents. Students legitimately need their computers for some of their work. Computers lead to social media, video-games, and web surfing. Those that can study for 45 minutes and take 10-15 minute breaks without getting sucked into these distraction vortexes succeed.
Another one of our students from Guilford High School tried to convince his mom that his Facebook study group was helpful. It wasn’t!
Fatigue is epidemic in student populations. The brain needs to be well rested to perform effectively. Those that get 7-8 hours sleep on most nights will participate better in school, perform better on tests, and study with greater efficiency.
And, yet another one of our students from Guilford was staying up until 1 am every night, mostly from studying hard, but partly due to playing video games after homework was complete. Simply shifting his bedtime to 11 pm and nothing else shifted his grades upward in every class.
Helping to instill these 5 habits in our students has led to better grades, better discipline, and better relations with parents.